The London-based polar architecture specialist, Hugh Broughton Architects is working with multi-disciplinary consultants WSP on the masterplan to modernise the Davis research station for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

The project aims to improve the infrastructure of Australia’s research station, which was first established in 1957 in Vestfold Hills, one of the largest coastal ice-free areas in Antarctica. In addition to creating state-of-the-art research facilities at the station, the masterplan will address the challenges of living and working in Antarctica, such as extreme weather conditions, isolation, logistics and resource availability.

The masterplanned modern research station will provide resilient facilities that enhance health, safety and wellbeing for those living and working on the continent, setting a new standard for infrastructure development in Antarctica.

To be executed in three stages, the new masterplan will focus on stabilisation works to renew key infrastructure and support ageing infrastructure, and increase the station population to approximately 120 in Stage 1; enable works to support a population of around 250 people for the construction of a proposed paved runway capable of supporting year-round access to the continent in Stage 2; and facilitate year-round presence to support science, logistics and the operation of the aerodrome (subject to approval) in Stage 3.

Stage 1 of the draft masterplan is now complete, and design development is underway.

Keeping in mind the challenges involved in infrastructure development in Antarctica, the team is banking on innovative techniques to support flexible installation and timely delivery with sustainable outcomes. Innovations include a series of elevated aerodynamic modular and easily maintainable buildings, with open plan, well-lit interiors to support a strong sense of community for Antarctic expeditioners.

The modular design of the station, which encompasses accommodation facilities, an operations and administration building, and a science and technology building with a 360-degree observatory and science deck, will allow for future adaptation and expansion.

New and emerging technologies will be employed to create a sustainable and efficient building environment that reduces water consumption, enhances energy efficiency and improves waste management, minimising the station’s environmental impact and operating costs.

The Australian Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley said:

“As part of a masterplanning process, the AAD is engaging with Australia’s Antarctic community to understand the challenges of living and working in a remote Antarctic environment. We want to build a sustainable and resilient station that has flexibility to support future science and emerging technologies.”

Hugh Broughton Architects director Hugh Broughton said:

“It is an absolute pleasure to be working with the Australian Antarctic Division on the masterplan for Davis research station, which is being developed in collaboration with WSP. It will ensure that work, which is done in one phase is complementary to the next, maximising operational efficiency and minimising disruption, and it will provide a route map to reduce the environmental footprint with innovative, resilient and sustainable infrastructure.

“The emerging concepts for a series of elegant modular craft, characterised by intelligent, maintainable and flexible designs, will ensure the physical and psychological well-being of the crew and will provide an excellent platform for a greater breadth of research, propelling Antarctic science forward and opening areas of investigation to future generations.”

WSP technical director - Property and Buildings Will Parker said:

“We are delighted to be working with the AAD in collaboration with HBA on the masterplan. The AAD has shown great foresight in identifying the need for development of a robust masterplan, which will direct development at the station and establish a new benchmark for Australia’s Antarctic stations.”